I couldn't be happier with it - I have a larger laptop that I use as my "main" computer at home (essentially as if it were a desktop), and the XPS13 is what I take with me everywhere and use for presentations, developing on the go, etc.
I've used Linux as my main OS for some years now, and for me the main appeal of this computer was the size/weight/battery life when compared to my larger laptop. If you've been waiting for a Linux ultrabook for portable development (or even just ultra-portable general use), this is it.
Compared to my work computer (a Macbook Air), the difference is enormous. Hardware-wise, the XPS13 just feels slimmer, even though the difference in size/weight is negligible. The biggest physical differences are the keys and trackpad - I'm typing this now on a mechanical keyboard, and I've gotten so used to the Das Keyboard that I can't stand the feel of chiclet-style keys. However, the shape of the XPS13 keys (slightly indented) alleviates some of the annoyances I have with most laptop keyboards (the Air included). The trackpad is highly sensitive, and I like the texture slightly more than that of the Macbook Air.
Battery life is great, even with Bluetooth turned on (though I usually leave this off - I still haven't found a real use for Bluetooth on my computers!).
I should mention the display - it's the perfect size for me. I actually dislike the Macbook Air on this one point - it absolutely kills my eyes by the end of the day (both the default size and default brightness/contrast). I have neither of these problems with the XPS13, but it's still crisp enough that I don't feel like I'm missing anything.
Overall, I'm incredibly happy that I got it, and I actually get slightly annoyed now when I have to use my Macbook Air for work - I wish I could be using the XPS13 instead. Aside from the fact that I'd rather be using Linux any day, hands-down, the computer just feels more physically appealing in itself. Even at its price, it's worth every penny.
 I should note that I received my testing laptop at a 20% discount, though after using it, I would be willing to pay full price for it if I'd had to.
I use my retina macbook for everything, and have not found myself using the dell at all, even when traveling. I didn't consider bringing it because I like the Mac so much more.
It is really nice hardware, with the exception that the screen has a much narrower viewing angle than either my macbook or my wife's macbook air. Also the trackpad is not as smooth as my macbook's, and more frequently registers the wrong kind of click.
Ubuntu has worked very well, and seems to be completely supported.
I greatly prefer the mac hardware, and would recommend an Air over the Dell.
edit: since parent disclosed that he got 20% off, I'll disclose that I was very fortunate to receive one for free at a conference raffle.
But I just can't seem to get over the fact that you are obviously not a Linux person (you seem to have strong preferences and by the looks of it, you know well that you are very much a Mac person), who won a Linux laptop for free and hasn't used it at all.
Had you but magnanimously declined the offer and passed it on, someone else could have used it happily all along....
Why jump on someone for giving their opinions on a product they won at a raffle? Are you supposed to decline prizes because you might not like them?
Also, what the hell is a "Linux person"? Is that someone who doesn't consider a day complete without compiling their own kernel extensions?
Maybe I count as a linux person because I've written my own kernel extension?
-10. Macintosh/Windows evangelist
0. Never heard of linux
1. Heard of linux, never used it
2. Tried linux once in '97, didn't get OSS working, gave up
3. Tried linux, couldn't make it be exactly like some other OS, gave up
4. Uses linux from time to time at home and/or at work as a server os
5. Uses linux as a desktop os when needed
6. Uses linux as a desktop os, but dual/triple boots for some apps
7. Uses linux exclusively
8. Uses linux exclusively and writes kernel patches
9. Uses linux exclusively, writes kernel patches and has touched Linus Torvalds
10. Is Linus Torvalds
11. Is Linus Torvalds's wife
The point of mentioning it seemed to be that someone who is not a regular Linux user will not thoroughly evaluate the laptop because they won't spend enough time on it and use it in enough ways.
Kudos to Dell for doing this, hopefully more vendors will follow suit.
EDIT: Just found your other post! That's really cool that is has such good support.
>>> The point of these beta tests is to get feedback from people
Exactly. And that's my main point. In all this time, feedback was not at all achieved (edit: contrast with, say @chimeracoder's review above), because by his own account, he barely used the laptop, ergo, no feedback to Dell or anyone else in the matter.....
Which is why I mentioned in the original comment "someone else could have used it happily all along...." (note the ellipsis, where the ending is left unsaid, as in, it c(w)ould have resulted in feedback, in the very least)
To be more precise, _market_ feedback was achieved. A small, pizzling drip of market feedback. When you hand out devices, you're looking for _product_ feedback.
That said, if someone offered me a free laptop, I probably would keep it because I don't own nearly enough laptops.
Despite my familiarity with linux, I can't be sure that simple comfort with the Mac OS isn't part of it. I don't much like the new Gnome (haven't used it since 2007, remember), nor do I care to learn how to install a different window manager and thereby spend the time supporting it.
2) The monitor is the biggest issue for me, followed by the mouse.
The monitor is low resolution, and feels very small compared to the retina monitor. Not a fair comparison, I know! But it's the one I make with the two computers side by side.
3) The dell keyboard is just as good as the mac's, and unlike most PCs, the overall hardware package generally feels very solid, simple, and well thought out. The carbon fiber bottom feels very cool. It's not quite as nice as the Air, but it's not too far away.
So, those are basically the reasons that it sits on my desk, unused, next to my macbook. Also, obviously I don't mind travelling with a slightly larger and heavier computer.
Since you haven't used linux in 5 years I'll be the fanboy that points out Linux, and Ubuntu especially, has grown up a lot since then.
How do you install an application? You open a package manager and hit the install button. Same thing with desktop environments. You want KDE? 'sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop'. Xfce is 'xubuntu-desktop'. Hell, even gnome classic can be installed this way with 'gnome-panel'.
LightDM will automatically notice the new environment. All you have to do is log out, then choose the desktop environment you want and log back in.
Window managers usually take a little more fiddling to install properly but I assume that's not what you meant since you referenced gnome.
We are all poorer for Tuomo Valkonen no longer producing this.
I wish someone would port it to OSX (not X11). I'd pay serious money for a license and I imagine quite a few others would, too.
The various half-assed "click-to-arrange" utilities (SizeUp et al) demonstrate that windows can be placed, sized, hidden and shown programmatically.
Other utilities demonstrate that mouse-position, clicks etc. can be detected and intercepted, and that you can render raster-overlays on top of the desktop. Window drop shadows can be disabled, the window chrome probably can't - but I wouldn't mind that.
An ion for OSX would probably have to draw its GUI (grid and tabs) as an overlay and then arrange the windows underneath. It would probably also have to intercept all mouse-actions and decide whether to pass them on.
The devil will obviously be in the details, and there will be lots of them. But in principle it doesn't seem impossible to go from something like http://www.tylerwm.com to something that actually works...
There's nothing technically in the way of Ubuntu being a first class operating system that way except for someone to spend a lot of time designing it from a holistic standpoint. The inconsistencies and lack of attention to detail are what separate the approximations of good UX to great UX.
If you think `apt-get` is even remotely user friendly, you're not seeing the forest for the trees. Ubuntu has an incredible collection of software and with the right interface it would be even easier to use than MacPorts, Homebrew, or any app store out there, but this is going to take time to make happen.
Also be careful what you describe as "fiddling" because for most people that means "beat head against wall until bleeding, then throw computer out window".
For me, LInux/BSD is much more usable than Windows 7 & Mac OSX for some tasks. Windows wins some as well. I cant think of, at the top of my head, anything OSX does best usability wise for me. But it's also the OS i use the least.
With Linux you'll have to make compromises on the desktop side, as there's a smaller choice of first-class applications, and on Windows your server selection is extremely limited in comparison.
Linux has an amazing command-line infrastructure, though only slightly better than OS X, and mostly this is just to do with having better package managers.
Windows has an amazing desktop environment, very responsive (on the right hardware) and with deep application support for high-performance 3D. Linux is making strides here, and OS X is often close but limited by the capabilities of OpenGL and the slightly less refined drivers.
The beauty of Apple for me is much more about the exceptional hardware quality thats blends with very good software
The typical user will open the software centre GUI, or just press Windows and start typing a package name or search term.
2) I find it hard to imagine an interface that's simpler than opening a terminal and typing 'apt-get install gnome-panel'. Sure, there's a chance you'll have to type 'Y' and confirm that you really wanted to install that many packages, but I think the fact that it asks instead of blindly downloading and applying a ton of packages actually a data point /for/ the 'user friendly apt-get' case.
That's interesting, because the mouse is one of the biggest turnoffs for me when it comes to OS X. I never could get used to the acceleration curve, despite installing 3rd party software to modify it.
There's also the issue of not having a pointing stick on Macs, but that's another subject entirely.
On some of my Macs I had to install software to fix it, on some it just felt right from the start. I never kept track to make out a pattern, but it may be worth trying out a different mouse.
The best solution I've found is to buy a Microsoft mouse. As with most Microsoft hardware, they're good value. You can then use the supplied Intellipoint for Mac OS X software, which, along with a bunch of pointless junk, lets you activate a Windows-style acceleration curve. It might sound daft, but this utterly transformed my experience of OS X.
Isn't it the case that the Dell ultrabook also does not have a pointing stick? Hopefully someone can chime in and confirm/deny this. I looked on the site, and it appears not to have one.
> Despite my familiarity with linux, I can't be sure that simple comfort with the Mac OS isn't part of it.
That's probably the reason, honestly - I'm coming at this as a daily Linux user who already knows how everything works, and all I want is that same experience on an Ultrabook.
I can't speak for Dell, but I don't think this laptop could/should really compete for the same audience as the Macbook Air... if you're happy with using OS X on Apple hardware - if it's "good enough" - there's probably not much that could get you to switch.
In my case, Linux is my first choice by far, so the choice between using my Ultrabook and using my work computer always results in me reaching for the ultrabook.
> I don't think this laptop could/should really compete for the same audience as the Macbook Air
I assume their market for this machine would be towards devs who might otherwise use an Air? I think of this machine as competing directly against the Air, which is why I used it as a comparison.
Why you don't think they're competing?
(This comment is meant in as non-combative a way as possible, I liked your response a lot. I hate the internet?)
Oh, they very well may be (probably are, in fact). I'm just saying that it's better to think of it as a laptop for Linux users who want something Air-like, as opposed to Air users who want Linux.
That's simply because it's much harder to replace something that's "good enough", even with something that's hands-down better on all fronts (take a look at Plan 9 vs. UNIX)
For users like me, a Mac isn't even close to "good enough", so I like some of the additional things this provides versus other solutions (installing Linux manually on another Ultrabook or on a laptop and providing my own support). For users who are already happy with a Macbook Air, this is probably good enough if you couldn't use your Air, but the added convenience may not compensate the friction of changing, even if you've used Linux in the past.
In other words, that friction doesn't exist for existing Linux users.
1) I really hate the hardware upsell. With this XPS machine I'm getting a 256gb SSD, 8G RAM, and an 3GHz i7 processor. The comparable hardware for a 13" Retina is $2,200 and it's still not as light or thin. The comparable Air is missing a GHz of processing speed and still costs an extra $150. Also, there isn't a team of OEM Apple developers writing Ubuntu PPA support for either machine, so I'm stuck on OS X again, which I'm pretty disillusioned with.
2) I'm actually still not really clear what the advantage of a retina display is. Maybe it's because I haven't been able to use one for a significant timespan, but I just don't get it. If there was a way to clearly and easily illustrate why a 13" display benefits from retina resolution, I'd really appreciate it.
3) I'm kind've ready for a change from Apple products. I haven't used a high end laptop or PC from any other manufacturer and I feel like I don't know what I'm missing, if I'm missing anything.
If you or the other XPS tester can respond at all, thanks in advance.
How good is your eyesight? Honest question. The difference is night and day for me and I wonder how I lived with that blurry thing for so long.
Maybe I'll look for some kind of 1:1 13" comparison...
Smaller text is more legible, and larger text is less jagged around the edges so both seem to be less of a strain on my eyes. My thinking is that the sharper the image displayed, the less work my eyes and brain have to do to fill in the gaps.
This could all just be me subconsciously trying to justify the purchase (although I have no regrets about it) and obviously YMMV so I'd suggest going into a store and doing a side-by-side comparison using an application that has been updated for the retina resolutions.
2) I like the retina display because I can crank my resolution up to 1680x1050 (on a 15") and it looks great. Font rendering on the retina displays is outstanding on apps that support it.
3) I can confirm that the Dell is not an Apple product.
I'd be unhappy if I had to switch from a retina macbook or an Air to the dell, mainly because of the screen. YMMV.
One of the most important things for a developer is a screen with as much vertical resolution as possible. Why didn't they put the 1440x900 in it? The Macbook Air still seems to be the best (developer) Ultrabook when I consider all specs. And it is by far not the most expensive.
If that's what stands out the most to you, there's probably nothing I can say to change your mind.
> Why didn't they put the 1440x900 in it?
No idea. I have no connection to Dell; I just filled out the form when they had public signups for the beta over the summer.
> One of the most important things for a developer is a screen with as much vertical resolution as possible.
Maybe if you do front-end/design work - I don't. I actually prefer the resolution on this compared to the Macbook Air - less eye strain when staring at a terminal all day.
Well, just increase the font size. Having a larger resolution allows you to see the same amount of content with better font rendering (only because of the larger point size on a larger resolution, I'm not going to discuss Linux vs OS X font rendering again).
No way to do that globally on OS X, and it's not just font size that's the problem.
> I'm not going to discuss Linux vs OS X font rendering again
If that's what important to you, then yes, you're probably not going to be happy with anything but a Mac. This computer isn't really meant for people who are happy with OS X on Apple's hardware, if you ask me.
For me, I care about the display only to the extent that I get eye strain - beyond that, the other advantages of Linux (esp. on officially supported hardware) win out by far.
You specifically mentioned the terminal, I thought that was your issue.
>> I'm not going to discuss Linux vs OS X font rendering again
> If that's what important to you, then yes, you're probably not going to be happy with anything but a Mac.
Text rendering is really important to not get eye strain.
However, I think Linux font rendering can be as good as OS X, that’s why I tried not to include it in the difference but just screen resolution. Higher resolution is always better, in my book.
In a different context - I meant that I don't care about vertical resolution, font accuracy, color accuracy, etc., because my work doesn't require that.
My problem isn't (just) the size of the font in the terminal (and the rendering on open-source fonts on a Linux terminal is perfectly fine, in any case).
> Higher resolution is always better, in my book.
On Linux, sure, higher resolution is no worse, but that doesn't mean I care about the marginal difference that much. On OS X, that's not the case, but it's not as simple as the resolution, but the resolution combined with the font size, and the size of icons/toolbars/etc., as well as the inability to change global font size, etc.
Because the fine-grained tools don't exist, for me, the lower resolution ends up being slightly better, even if some (theoretical) combination of higher resolution and larger font/icon size., etc. could be even better than that.
 So I can use tools like Redshift, flux, etc.
Have you tried changing the font size on the Air ?
I mean, I can't see how a better resolution is a disadvantage.
Moving past 96/72dpi needs to happen faster. High resolution is only a good thing for reading. If you have eye strain you need bigger text, not a less high display.
Maybe, but I've never noticed the difference with the Sputnik resolution, so I guess it's large enough.
As in, the "backspace", "d", and few other keys will not even register. Tried updating and rebooting too. I returned it for another unit so let's hope it is just a few odd batches that has this mfg defect.
Googling this problem should give you more details.
Whenever I have tried to use linux on a laptop, I've never had this working right. One of the big reasons why I've always gone back to a macbook (that and the hardware).
Personally I have an Air with OSX and I shell into Linux for work. I can use vmware for a local copy if I wanted but I prefer to use my servers that Linode manages. That way when I loose my Air or it gets stolen or whatever, my work stays in good standing. Maybe I just never got past the old days, for me the laptop is something for running ssh, chrome and photoshop.
I also don't think you can objectively say OSX is the most "polished" Unix. Especially in the area of package management, which, as a developer, takes up a huge part of my week, OSX is sort of half-assedly catching up. And that's only with third party tools like Homebrew and MacPorts.
Other areas OSX is more polished. But as a UNIX it's not a clear winner.
My Dell Latitude 510 (and then 620) - both never made it past year 2 before suffering structural failure.
More than any usability feature or GUI design element, the aspect of "OSX UNIX" that stands apart is the ability to interact with plain old consumer hardware...
If only they put better displays in thinkpads.
Uh... I dont recommend dropping your mac air.
Speaking as someone who spent multiple years with a thinkpad T60 and a 13in MBA, it's without a question the thinkpad is much more rugged. Be especially careful with the screen on the MBA. If you drop it even a short distance, the aluminum will be damaged, and it might break internal components such as the webcam, which can't be fixed without replacing the whole screen. I love my MBA, but certainly not because it's rugged.
I prefer having military grade hardware (Panasonic), the best no compromises OS in the world (Linux), and the ability to virtualize Windows if need be. Just about had a heart attack when I saw your post. :)
I only wish I could easily virtualize OS/X. Come on, Apple.
I didn't find that to be the case. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon was the only Ultrabook that compared at all favorably to the Air in reviews, and it costs something like $1450 versus $1140 for the Air. Thought about it. Couldn't justify the higher price. (Edit: Price has apparently dropped, see below)
Another contender was Asus' Zenbook Prime, which got mostly good reviews and is cheaper than the Air. But it's only slightly cheaper ($1080) and the Ubuntu wiki mentioned a bunch of ugly issues I didn't want to deal with: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AsusZenbookPrime
Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop) is my favorite operating system. I'm not settling for less by using it. I set out to run Xubuntu on a great, lightweight laptop with an SSD, and the Air was the most compelling option. Simple as that.
This is not true. Lenovo (like pretty much every company except Apple) has regular discounts. You can easily get the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for a price comparable to the Air. Also, I would say that the X1 Carbon is better than the Air in many ways. You get a bigger screen, higher resolution, better keyboard, the TrackPoint, and a 3G SIM card slot.
At the time, I was definitely not seeing it under $1400. It may have been before the X1 Carbon was officially released, or while they were experiencing manufacturing delays in September.
I agree with you: if I were buying today and had that information, I'd go with the X1 Carbon, mainly for the higher resolution.
Does the X1 Carbon come with 8GB of RAM, a Core i7, and a battery that lasts 6+ hours? Do you know of a single laptop other than a MacBook (and the Samsung Series 9 15" which is too huge for 1600x900 resolution) that carries those specs? If you do, I'll buy it immediately.
Also keep in mind that there are also several advantages to the X1 Carbon over the MacBook Air, which I mentioned in my previous post. The biggest one is that despite being the same physical size as the 13" MacBook Air, you get a 14" screen.
OSX is awesome for most people, but for me I could never get a hang of it. The lack of having a package manager has always been confusing to me. A package manager is very similar to an "App-store" why not have one to keep things simple for developers?
I would have weird Kernel panics with the newest generation Macbook Air, this was very odd, but I don't fault OSX for it.
This is purely a personal preference, but the window management was a very frustrating experience for me. The OSX dock seems so unintuitive for me. If an application is open there's a tiny blue dot to signify that it's open. I can't really explain it, I just don't like it. There were a lot of odd inconsistencies when managing windows in OSX that I can't really remember but would frustrate me.
I'm not really saying OSX is bad, just giving you a perspective from somebody who thought the Mac hardware is much, much better than their software.
However, I know many people who just don't know linux very well who are happy sticking with OS X, so I don't think that's a valid observation to make either.
Color me impressed, if it is kept up over a three year time scale minimum. Also, here's an example bug report resolved with a kernel fix: http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/os-applications/f/46...
Use of Launchpad is preferred, though, and one can see open and closed bugs here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/dell-sputnik
I haven't traveled with it, so I can't be sure that it's handling the battery properly while asleep, but it seems to.
Dunno if it's an XFCE thing or a Ubuntu thing or an X thing or a Linux thing. I'm too lazy to debug this fully. I just yank the power and reboot. :)
I was using Ubuntu with docking station about 2 years back and it was having troubles getting in and out of the docking station. My solution was to manually xrandr it. This should be helpful if you don't want to reboot to get the display right http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Xorg_RandR_1.2#Using_.24_xrand...
Also, but that might be subjective: 1366x768 would be way too less for me...
I'd rather not sideline this with a discussion about resolution and brightness, because frankly, it's one of those subjective, "try it yourself and see what works best for you" sort of things. In short, I view high brightness as a drawback, not a feature, and the resolution + font size is more important on OS X, where I have a much harder time getting everything to a reasonable size for me in concert.
I'm willing to bet none of that sounds familiar - as I said, it's one of those things where, if you have to ask, it's not an issue for you. All I can recommend in your case is that, if you're considering an XPS13, take look at one of the XPS13 models and seeing if that display works for you or not.
You can't do the opposite if the display does not support it.
As I said, that doesn't solve the problem.
> You can't do the opposite if the display does not support it.
Sure, but this display works for me, and there are plenty of things I can do on Linux which I can't on OS X (and which I care about much more).
If my problems aren't issues for you (which they're not) and you really care about display/rendering/etc., then yes, you probably want a Mac and this computer probably isn't for you. I like it because I've never been happy with a Macbook Air, and this is a Linux Ultrabook that "just works".
Anyway, on OSX, you can also do a lot but you are right, there is no official way to change the global font size (afaik) (and you are also right that that wasn't really an issue for me so far). Anyway, most applications have their own settings. (Usually, I even go smaller than the default sizes to have more content on my screen.)
Not really - I'm comparing what works out of the box on both computers with official support and zero tweaking whatsoever.
Even without the XPS13, I'd just as soon get another computer and install Linux on it myself. That way I can choose my own hardware, and I don't have to deal with the annoying Apple keyboards, some of the known Linux issues specific to Apple hardware, and (most importantly), the incredibly irritating delay on the Caps_lock key hardcoded into the firmware (which I believe remains an issue even when running Linux).
Mac UI chrome does not scale neatly to large font sizes.
For a while, I even went hardcore and used color-blind color mappings hotkeys via compiz to cut out the white glare backgrounds of web pages.
Edit: the older Lenovo keyboards; reading more comments has informed me that Lenovo's using chiclet keyboards now too.
It's been almost 6 months now and, honestly, these days when I got back to do stuff on my T61 it's a world of difference. The W530's key presses are much more substantial and have a better feel; the quality of the keys seem much better; and the seemingly awkward placement of they keys (excluding the Print Screen key) seem highly justified to me now. And more importantly, the chiclet-style keys are grew on me almost immediately.
I've used the MBA and other chiclet-style keys and the main difference to note is that the Lenovo keys are slightly concave. This, to me, makes the keys feel less chiclet-y and more normal, though they do have the visually noticeable spaces between each key. Compared to the MBA, the MBA's flat keys just don't feel right and I feel make typing less accurate.
The last time I used a Thinkpad was a couple of years ago, when I was working off of a friend's. I don't remember liking it much; I think this one is better, but to be entirely honest, that was ~2 years ago, so don't put much weight into that.
The main thing that distinguishes this keyboard from Apple's is that the keys aren't as flat - I'm used to tactile and auditory feedback on the Das Keyboard, and while neither Apple's nor Dell's keyboards provide this, having the indentations makes it slightly easier to type quickly (notice how the Das keyboards all have slight indendations too).
Also, the BIGGEST problem with Apple's keyboards for me is the 200ms delay hardcoded in the firmware for the Caps Lock key. I rebind Caps_Lock -> Escape for vim, and this frustrates me to no end.
At the end of the day, neither you nor I are ever going to be happy with any laptop keyboard, since they're all non-mechanical, but I think this as good as we're going to get.
 I have the "silent" (ie, still-audible) one at work and the regular (loud) one at home.
That should make a big difference; I'm amazed at the number of typos I make when I'm using a mac. Thanks!
I've only tried n = 2 monitors with this computer, which works, but in my experience with Linux, if you have any issues it'll be with going from 1->2, not 2->3 (or more). Ubuntu's had good support for this for a while.
While the Intel HD 4000 supports 3 displays, according to the docs, it only supports them when used with series 7 chipsets and the specs on this ultrabook say it uses the QS67 which is a series 6 chipset.
So I would bet that the answer is NO.
EDIT: REFERENCE LINKS
So the XPS13 definitely works with 1 external + 1 internal, but maybe it won't work with a second external after all.
I'm only connecting one with my XPS13 - I've connected two in the past on my other computers (which is what I was referring to).
> can you daisy chain a DisplayPort?
No idea, though this page suggests the newer ones can: http://www.displayport.org/faq/
I'd estimate somewhere between 6 and 8 hours. It's hard to say because I've never actually run it down fully, but it still estimates another couple hours' worth after I've been using it for 5 hours or so. Estimates should be taken with a grain of salt, but for comparison, that's more than I get on my larger laptop, and comparable to what I get on my Macbook Air.
I'm also in the market for a linux ultrabook, but considering the price difference I'll prolly go with the samsung chromebook or even with the thinkpad x1 carbon (yes, I'd pay a lot for a better screen resolution/specs-wise).
I was considering the Chromebook at one point, but I've heard mixed things about its support for ssh (connection reliability), so the Ultrabook seemed like a better choice even as a dumb remote terminal.
No other Ultrabooks, no, though I've owned both an HP Envy 14 and an HP Pavilion before that. Both always ran Linux well for me. I've tested out other Ultrabooks in the store (all running Windows), and the XPS13 was one of the ones I liked more, though I remember liking one of the Asus models too.
Other hardware may be fine; the big difference for me is the official support (even if I don't use it, it's nice to know it exists). The XPS13 hardware hasn't given me any reason to complain, but I'm also not very particular.
Thats total balony, trackpads and WiFi have been well supported in Linux for almost a decade. It is _rare_ to find a labtop that when you install la fresh modern distro on it , things don't work. Yes every now and then you get a vendor who insist on doing something different, but most of the time its a synaptic track pad ( well supported ) and a Broadcom or Intel WiFi card ( well supported ). I can remember back in 2004 taking my Government Issued Dell laptop and installing Fedora on it and everything working out of the box.
I thought I would dislike the new chiclet keyboard, which deviates from IBM/Lenovo's two-decade old keyboard design, but unbelievably, I actually like it. Having used chiclet keyboards on MacBooks, I never liked them, but Lenovo seems to have done it right.
Edit: there's one other issue, but this seems to be a (depressing) trend in the industry: decline in user serviceability of laptops. You can't replace the SSD (it's soldered onto the mobo), and replacing the RAM is not recommended. The price is quite high, especially if you upgrade the SSD (not recommended; just get a 2.5" USB 3.0-powered external HDD - I got a 1 TB one for $70 just a few days ago) or RAM (recommended; 8 GB is always good to have these days, and there's only one slot, so if you replace it later, you'll still have to buy 8 GB), so watch for sales/coupon codes (there was a good one for Black Friday) or use your college .edu address to get a student discount.
Edit 2: Lenovo also changed the power connector to a rectangular shaped one, because the X1 Carbon's profile is too thin to use the old, circular one. This means all your old ThinkPad power cables are now useless.
That's not quite correct. The SSD is not soldered, it is replaceable. The problem with the SSD is that it's not a standard mSATA part. The RAM does appear to be soldered to the motherboard.
Source: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Hardware Maintenance Manual - http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/guides-and-manuals/detail.pa... - SSD replacement instructions on p62; note the absence of RAM replacement instructions, indicating that it is not a Field Replaceable Unit (FRU).
As for the RAM, its absence from the hardware maintenance manual is because Lenovo doesn't recommend/support its replacement. You need to remove 7 screws and the entire bottom base of the laptop to do so.
56. 56 goddamn screws.
Perhaps it's because I'm running a lightweight Linux distro, but I have absolutely none of the heat problems mentioned in the Verge review. The laptop runs very cool - much more so than my ThinkPad T410.
The trackpad is responsive, although I have little use for it. The keyboard design is fantastic, but the layout is a little annoying. They got rid of the 'back' and forward' keys next to the 'up' key, and I used those all the time in the browser. They also eliminated Scroll Lock, which I had repurposed as a keyboard shortcut. Finally, they moved the multimedia keys from Fn+up/down/left/right to Fn+F10/F11/F12, which is really annoying.
But those are specific to previous ThinkPad owners. The only other real complaint I have is that it's useless for 3D gaming. I installed the Steam Linux beta, and even a game as simple as Cogs stutters. However, I'm not a big gamer, so it's no big loss. In fact, it will probably help my productivity.
That's been my experience with Linux in the last 3-4 years. Almost everything just works for the "usual" settings. No more futzing with XFree86Conf files... :D
Do you mean suspend/resume? It works fine with Xubuntu. I close the laptop, it turns off. I open it up, it turns back on to the lock screen. Then when I log in, it automatically reconnects to wifi within a few seconds. This is all without any configuration.
Battery life is great, I can get 5+ hours. But remember I'm running XFCE - things may not be the same with Unity or KDE.
Yes but also CPU throttling. With that battery life it must be working. Does it get very hot or noisy?
It hasn't gotten hot or noisy so far. The most demanding thing I regularly do on this laptop is watch HD video though, so it's not under that much strain. But there are definitely no issues with coding or web browsing.
Isn't a touch version of that coming out soon? Even if you don't like touch, it might be good to have if it's not too much extra cost.
Synaptic "clickpad" trackpad that claims to support multitouch: Sorry, only with their Windows driver. Not only I don't get multitouch in Ubuntu, but I can't even click or drag/drop anything. Ubuntu 12.04 claimed to fix the issue with clickpads, but it didn't work out of the box, and even after extensive tweaking, some features were still very buggy. In the end, I switched to a laptop that has a traditional trackpad without the multitouch bullshit.
Broadcom wifi card: Works fine once you install the additional driver. But there's a catch: last time I checked, the driver didn't come with the install CD. So I have to download it in order for wifi to work ... but I need wifi in order to download it. Ended up digging out an old ethernet cable from a dusty closet and crawling under another closet to connect it to the modem. Not pleasant!
Of course, most of the problem lies with hardware vendors who don't release fully functional open-source Linux drivers for their gadgets. But since when does the average user care whose fault it is that their trackpad doesn't work? The great thing about this Dell release is that all their drivers are fully functional and freely available as a PPA. Because without those drivers, few of today's latest PC laptops work with Linux out of the box.
Just like how installing Fedora on a laptop 8 years ago and having everything work doesn't mean that there aren't some things that are perpetually broken on Linux distros.
(look up "perpetually").
Besides, it's not like there was anything substantial there besides more hand waving old inaccurate stereotypes about linux.
occurring continually : indefinitely long-continued
As in, every time I install Linux on a new laptop, as I have several times over the past 5 years or so, problems with WiFi continue to reoccur, and require some level of googling around to resolve. Yet, years later, with an updated distribution on a new computer, they occur again, perpetually.
The problem can remain perpetually unfixed at the distribution level if everyone who installs it is willing to spend time tinkering around to get things to work right.
But for the most part Linux does cover hardware pretty well, and I've not seen a 'core' part of a laptop not work properly for a long while.
I love Linux, but if you can't admit to how fucked up certain basic concepts are you are living in a TTY.
What do you mean by "power management" here? I am having a hard time figuring out what has window manager got to do with power management?
You can install any number of window managers on Fedora. You can even do it at install time using Anaconda.
The point is the issue shouldn't exist. It's not about Gnome 3/Unity/KDE all deciding create the same interface - it's that they shouldn't have that power to begin with.
Once you create behemoths for managing wireless, power, the display, and rendering what do you expect to happen? These are huge artificial systems that prevent any actual innovation.
The Linux desktop needs awesome APIs and to use modern development practices that allow for decoupling between parts.
> A Single data point does not a result make.
Earlier you claimed that linux support was good. It doesn't make many counter examples to contradict that. YMMV is not Good.
You had an experience where linux worked. Some other have been able to struggle machines over the line previously but this is not evidence of maturity.
> Others have had no problems with that exact laptop.
It's common to read in this forum and others comments like yours, "oh linux has been well-supported on laptops for years" and then to optimistically go out and buy hardware, or try something, and find that you can't boot or similar. Just three weeks ago I had a hell of a time trying to get different distributions of linux (including ubuntu) to boot consistently on a three year old macbook with dual video cards. The problem seems to be caused by an issue that has been known about for two years, but with much fiddling in grub I couldn't get it to the stage where it would boot every time. And then there were all sorts of suspend/resume problems.
Wireless has definitely not been mature for a decade. Wireless on ubuntu has been mature from backend to user interface for about four years. Earlier than that there were all sorts of things that should have been done in the background being done in gnome tooling, and it caused suspend/resume problems on some platforms, and configuration was broken. Maybe a commenter could point out that there was some magic combination that didn't have that problem. Doesn't matter. magic combinations != mature.
Another favourite is where you install the base distribution, and things work, but then you make reasonable changes using the approved package management system and all sorts of crap just starts breaking. Flash stops working, or audio vanishes, or your display doesn't work in X any more, or your second display stops working.
*I would just like to point out that in addition to having just a good if not better hardware support across the board , Linux really excels with its community and availability of online resources to fix most problems. I know some people don't like the idea that they might need to go look for solution and just want things to work , and I understand that, but I like knowing if I need it there is help out there I can leverage. Things will break no matter what OS your running and someone will need to fix it.
I can imagine people base their computer purchase the same way.
That's the problem. It means that if you're a linux expert and can spend some time fixing things each time they break, Linux on Laptops is great. And you're in a better position to fix things when they do, since you can modify the source.
Another Toshiba (Satellite L650) owner here. I had major issues with wifi and display. Drove me mad.... Ubuntu forums were helpful, but ultimately ineffective. If I installed it on VMWare... no issues though.... what in the name of heaven is going on.....
>> It means that if you're a linux expert and can spend some time fixing things each time they break
And I didn't have that liberty either, plus you really shouldn't be doing this kind of thing at this day and age, if you know what I mean.
For Linux, I still have to fire up the VM, the RAM usage goes up, the machine heats up.... and the family has a field day teasing me about my obsession with Linux... Frankly, some days I wonder it it's all worth it to jump so many hoops.
The track point sensitivity is too low and I have it at the highest sensitivity. (You need to turn the sensitivity in the settings to the lowest value to get the highest sensitivity!)
Don't get me started on lack of uefi boot support. Grub recognizes Windows 8 but refuses to boot it. I've had to install an msata ssd and put the Windows bootloader on that and install grub and a boot partition on the hdd to get useful dual booting.
Linux is far from a cakewalk on my machine.
My device isn't listed on the wiki. I'll have to spend several more hours digging through various pages to find things to try. This is why I don't like linux for laptops. Windows 8 works out of the box. I'd rather just up the ram to 8gb and virtualize linux.
I've got a thinkpad and have also had trouble getting the trackpad stuff configured the way I want it to work with extra utilities. That's the only problem I've had with it though. I wish the bios just had a way to switch off the trackpad, but leave the buttons above it functioning.
I love Linux but the state of hardware support has reached a steady state in my opinion. Things break, others start working, then they break again.
This is done to save battery life. In most situations the integrated graphics are more than enough, so the dedicated graphics chip can be turned off. If, however, that isn’t transparent to the user (i.e. happens automatically and on the fly) it’s nearly useless. Who is going to bother and reboot to switch graphics?
This is a pretty standard feature, available in all Apple laptops with dedicated graphics and many (if not all) Windows laptops with dedicated graphics.
Although at the moment it's a manual install, it should find its way into popular distros soon enough.
You're right in that I can be reasonably certain that a laptop I buy will run Linux, but I can't be certain that there won't be issues. And I can't be certain that the random forum poster who successfully is using Linux on the model I want to buy uses their device like I do - maybe they never sleep and always shutdown, or don't ever use bluetooth, or don't care about USB 3.0, or never use two-finger scrolling, or don't need to access SAMBA shares, and so I cannot know before my purchase whether it'll do everything I want.
And so, I stick with Windows, because it is the devil I know.
Where do you research it? As I was intimating, all I can ever find is some person on some forum who says it's working fine for them. I have zero confidence in such "research".
Nunh-unh. I recently tried to repurpose an original MBA to Ubuntu 12.10 because it isn't supported by current OSX. While I was very favorably impressed by the current state of the Ubuntu out of the box experience, it just didn't work smoothly on the MBA:
* Sleep/wake wasn't smooth, often had to click the mouse or the power button to wake it;
* "right click" is an unintuitive two-finger tap that is often falsely detected as you attempt a two-finger scroll gesture -- the Mac convention of control-click isn't recognized;
* there is a persistent "serious problem" warning that pops up a couple of times every time it wakes up, related to a known bug with the graphics adapter -- it was harmless but would be dead scary to the novice I planned to give the machine to -- and it wasn't fixed after several weeks.
* After I plugged headphones into the jack, the internal speaker went silent. Ubuntu still knew whether there was a headphone in the jack or not, but the speaker never sounded again.
I finally put OSX Snow Leopard back on it and of course, everything "just worked" (including the internal speaker). The recipient will just have to live with end of life software.
A couple of years ago an issue with the USB3 driver broke suspend on laptops with USB3 for quite some time, requiring workarounds. Multi-touch trackpads took some time to get full gesture support. Auto-switch between paired graphics cards still doesn't work.
That's not to say things aren't pretty good now - but to imply that linux doesn't require some fiddling about under the hood hardware-wise is stretching a lot.
I reinstalled it with kubuntu 12.10 and the volume buttons doesn't work nor some of the fn+command keys. Sometime the touchpad just die and I have to restart the computer if I really want the touchpad (I use vim+tmux to dev so I don't need the touchpad unless I want to surf the web).
As for what was wrong with mint. After Nvidia's driver update sleep wouldn't work, it would sleep forever like sleeping beauty unless you hold down the power button for several second to turn the laptop off and reboot.
The Lenovo s300 with Intel HD 3000 however works flawlessly out of the box, with HDMI, audio over HDMI, multitouch touchpad, camera, suspend and everything. Just don't touch anything with an ATI card.
Trackpads and wi-fi has been working for me for a long time(not implying this isn't a problem for many people), but what drives me completely insane is the video cards. If you are planning to run linux, seriously re-consider buying laptops with hybrid graphics. The graphic card might or might not run, the card switching will most likely not work, but you can ignore it since you can work with the intel card, right? Well, no. Most of the AGP, whether used or not, will eat up power, the fan will run at full speed and your laptop's behind will be hot enough to stir fry some veggies.
If you have a laptop with hybrid graphics, and you can't make it work, just switch off your discrete card.
Laptops in general, and linux laptops tend to run hot. However, don't mess with power settings a lot. Putting harddisks on powersaving mode(refer hdparm) so that they become idle puts unnecessary strain on the disk. You can try out experimenting with cpu frequency(cpufreq-set).
How did 1366x768 ever become acceptable?
I know it's a 13" screen but still...
I think it's a combination of two factors.
First, at the low end, manufacturers emphasise the screen size, but avoid mentioning resolution, so in my local supermarket there are cheap laptops prominently advertised as 15", but they only have 1366x768 resolution. Perhaps that's what the customers want: a big screen that they can use to watch videos in their bedrooms.
Second, even if you do care about resolution, it's hard to find out what it is. It's usually advertised as some cryptic series of letters ending in GA. QWERTYUGA; ASDFXGA; WTFGA. Look at this madness! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_display_resolution
I wish they'd specify screens in size, aspect ratio, pixel density, and megapixels. (I know some of those are redundant, but shoppers shouldn't need a calculator.)
Why would Dell use such a low-resolution screen? My phone is higher resolution than this laptop. Visual information density is very useful to "devops" Dell is said to be targeting and hi-dpi enables this.
Linus Torvalds is right in saying we need a new standard (he is advocating for a new 2560x1600 laptop standard, see https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/ByVPmsSeSEG ).
(edit - fixed resolution typo)
For the same price you can get a MacBook Air with a 1440x900 screen.
In short, most things work fine on Ubuntu 12.10. I first tried using this guide to install Ubuntu 12.04, but had lots of gnarly install issues. I then tried with the regular 'amd64+mac' graphical installer for Ubuntu 12.10 beta, and got it running easily. I was able to ignore most of  except for installing and configuring macfanctld, and making the touchpad perform decently using the advice in . (Unlike the author of , I hate tap-to-click, so I turned the TapButton[1-3] settings off.)
There are still a few nagging issues I haven't fixed. The Air boots with brightness at the max and won't let me turn it down until logged in, and it loses my touchpad settings on reboot, so I have a little bash script I run to fix them.
Or $1430 (still over a hundred dollars less) with twice as big of an SSD: http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MacBook-MD232LL-13-3-Inch-VERSIO...
This XPS does have 8GB RAM (versus 4), but that's the only big advantage that sticks out to me.
My experience has been that things like EFI have made it impossible to boot linux on recent macbooks (I have tried!), and many ultrabook hardware just doesn't work on linux. Graphics won't show up, the thing won't boot, SATA hard drives not found, etc.
Many of the websites I used to rely on (eg, linux-laptop.net) have very out of date information. Ubuntu has a list of certified machines (http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/) but still, it doesn't tell me much about ultrabooks released in the past year.
Are there any new resources I'm missing? Or personal experiences people can share?
As for myself, I'm successfully running Mint on a Toshiba Portege ultrabook. But that is the flimsiest computer I've ever used!
Ubuntu 12.04.1 installs & runs without modification, but some minor Fn keys didn't work (e.g., WiFi toggle button).
Arch Linux with systemd installs & runs fine, and it had great battery life because 'rfkill block all' seems to more thoroughly power-down those circuits on Arch than Ubuntu. (well over 7 hours with wired ethernet, plus Emacs and Firefox in heavy use)
> Ubuntu 12.04.1 installs & runs without modification, but some minor Fn keys didn't work (e.g., WiFi toggle button).
This doesn't even work on Windows without their crap-ware.
I made a copy of their installation files, uninstalled it, and now run it only when I need to use those FN keys (that is - very rarely).
Other than this and the 4GB of RAM ... this is absolutely the most perfect laptop I have ever put my hands on and even beats out the Apple MacBook Air (which I sold after getting this).
EDIT: But I did have to fiddle a little to get the clickpad working properly
So either I was installing and configuring it wrong (definitely possible) or it just doesn't work any more. (Or maybe a combination of both. This is the life of an open source zealot i'm afraid.)